With it being the summer holidays in New Zealand, I thought it a good time to talk about aromas as this is a time for scent in the air from the abundant plant life the country is blessed with.

Most of us take our sense of smell for granted but where would we be without  it?  Experiences we have are influenced by the aromas associated with them. I’m sure you can instantly recall moments you had by remembering the smell of:

sea air.

a damp forest.

a rose.

freshly cut grass.

a pizza cooking.

coffee beans….…..see what I mean?

I haven’t even mentioned the cosmetics industry with its huge range of  perfumes, deodorants and body lotions. Put simply, the aromas we have  around us effect the way we feel.

Aromatherapy was coined in the 1900s by a Frenchman, Rene Gatefosse. He studied the science of aromas used by the ancient Greeks, Romans, as well as the Egyptians. We now have a good understanding of their powerful properties and the effects they have on us, thanks to Rene’s experiments in his Paris laboratory.

There are different ways of using aromas in our daily lives. Whichever way it is, they will have some benefit for you.

The easiest way to permeate your environment with pleasant aromas is to use essential oils in a vaporizer. Vaporizers designed to fit around a light bulb are an excellent idea and are a great way to generate an aroma from the heat of the bulb. Incense sticks are the other option but these may not appeal to some people and we all know inhaling smoke is not wise.

We are just re-discovering the healing properties of aromas. The other advantage of using essential oils is being able to combine them to suit your mood and achieve the right atmosphere for your surroundings from an uplifting atmosphere if you need to concentrate, to an intimate one for a candle lit dinner.

You’ll have to experiment until you find the combinations most pleasing to you and which suit your particular needs. A word of warning, don’t be too heavy handed when using essential oils. They are deceptively strong. You only need to use seven or eight drops for a vaporizer and the same amount for a bath. You want the fragrance to subtly waft around your environment, not choke everyone in the area.

It’s also important to make sure you use only genuine essential oils. Synthetic ones are poor quality and some research has suggested they can do more harm than good. Check to see the word ‘pure’ appears on the bottle’s label.

Without further ado, I’ll outline the main therapeutic qualities of the most readily available essential oils.


This is one of the oldest known essential oils. It’s often used in men’s cosmetics and can help release anxiety and nervousness. It’s long been used as an aid for relaxation. It’s fragrance reminds us of a forest. It could be described as a masculine aroma.


This is similar to lemon but slightly stronger in its qualities. The Chinese and Indians use the grass from which the oil is distilled for cooking.


It’s available in most health store outlets. Its unusual aroma is not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s a good one to help with depression and anxiety.


This is again used in men’s cosmetics because it has a woody type of aroma. It’s also good for oily skin.


This oil has strong sedative qualities and I don’t recommend it for general use. Give it a miss if you want to be uplifted.


This oil is worth its weight in gold. It’s one of the presents the three wise men presented to the baby Jesus. It has wonderful calming properties and helps produce feelings of comfort.  It’s also good for the skin, but its actual aroma is difficult to describe.


The English grew it around the doors to their homes before the days of deodorants. Women entering with their voluminous dresses, brushed past it on entry, bringing the fragrance of the plant into the house on their clothes. It’s still one of the most popular oils and has many uses. It has major calming properties and is a great aid for sleep. Lavender scented pillows have been successfully used for hundreds of years and are now again available. Because it has strong nurturing qualities, it’s also beneficial during times of poor health.


This oil also has a beautiful fragrance. It has properties that help the brain, stimulating the memory and helping concentration. It can also be used as a massage oil for tired muscles.


Another well known oil used for centuries for its antiseptic qualities. It is used in deodorants and is also good for skin problems.


Like sage, thyme has valuable antiseptic qualities. Its energizing and cleansing and therefore helps the body build strength and stamina. It has wonderful herbaceous aroma.


This fragrance has been used in India for centuries for a range of rituals and is popular when used in stick form. It also works well as a skin cosmetic and is one of the few body fragrances that appeal to both men and women.


As you probably know, peppermint stimulates the brain and helps clean the mouth and throat (as a candy) It aids digestion and clears the head. I don’t recommend it as an atmosphere aroma, but it can be mixed with others to meet your needs. You need to experiment to see what works for you.


This is good for the nerves and for those who are tired. It is an uplifting oil and can be used with others to great effect.


This is also uplifting and good for the nerves and works well as a massage oil. It has a very pleasing citrus aroma that lingers and works well when used with other oils.


This is a weed in some countries but its pleasant aniseed aroma makes it an appealing invader in most gardens. It can be used instead of peppermint to aid the digestive system and help the stressed out to cope with their lives.


The silent energizer. It’s best used with other oils but it has its own power as a sedative and aphrodisiac. It’s powerful aroma is not everyone’s cup of tea, but as I say, it makes a good partner for many of the other oils.

Ceidrik Heward

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